Flint, MI—Jor’Dae Roland’s been running track at Hamady High School for the past four years, and the senior whose career in track spans over a decade or so got to compete at Hamady’s home grounds for the first time, just before she graduates.
“I feel good. It’s our first and last meet on a new track. I’m just ready to run,” Roland told Flint Beat ahead of competing in the day’s events.
Like Roland, Kem Blassingame, a senior at Hamady, was looking forward to running at Hamady Middle/High School’s track.
“We’ve been begging for a home track,” Blassingame said. “We finally got one, so I’m pretty excited for today. I got some competition here today so it should be fun.”
Hamady hosted an inaugural meet at the track on Tuesday, May 16, 2023. It’s the first meet hosted by Hamady in nearly four decades, according to Jamal Bransford, public relations and marketing coordinator at Westwood Heights Schools, where the majority of the district’s students are Flint residents.
As Westwood Heights Schools Superintendent Leslie Key stood on the track’s sideline, he said it’s good to see Hamady’s home crowd supporting the district’s athletes.
“It’s a great day, great day to be a Hawk,” Key said.
Construction of the track and football field was completed in 2018 at the cost of $3 million, Bransford said. The site used to be an open field, and an artificial field turf, long-jump pits, an asphalt track, a concession stand and a press box are among the various features built at the site.
“I know what it was before and now to be able to look outside and see what’s out there, it’s just mind-blowing,” said Gary Lee, the athletic director of Westwood Heights.
Hamady’s track and field teams have been training at the track since the construction was completed, Lee noted. It took some time to get things in order to run a sanctioned track meet, and there’s been a great buzz in the community about the meet, he said.
Susie Thomas, a secretary at Hamady Elementary School, had never been to a track meet until Tuesday. When Thomas first heard about the meet that day, she decided to volunteer to greet people entering the track, all the while getting the chance to watch the happenings of the meet.
“It’s an awesome thing,” Thomas said of Hamady’s first track meet at the field.
For Ryan Richardson, a teacher at Hamady High School, it means a lot to see Hamady’s athletes compete at their home track.
“I’m teaching some of these beautiful ladies and gentlemen you see running,” Richarson said. “They’re my students and I love em. I’m here to support them and I’m just happy. I’m very happy.”
Richardson himself used to run track.
“When I see em lining up, I want to get back out there,” Richardson said. “I know I can’t do it anymore.”
Sitting among the audience in the bleachers was Roland’s family, who cheered her on as she ran against her competitors on the track.
“It’s been a great ride,” her mother Sharena Roland said. “We’ve been doing this for over 10 years, watching her compete, and we’re super excited to see her and her class compete today.”
Though Roland’s team lost to their rival, the International Academy of Flint, in the 4x100m and 4x200m relays, she won both of her solo events as the meet came to a close.
“It felt good being on our track, and winning and competing today,” she said, adding that she’s already looking ahead to the regional meet at Frankenmuth, Mich., on May 19.